CHAMPAIGN — On Tuesday, Illinois freshman Ayo Dosunmu was the catalyst to defeating No. 9 Michigan State, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in a 30-second span late in the game. On Saturday, freshman Giorgi Bezhanishvili scored 35 points to set the Illinois freshman scoring record and to lead Illinois past Rutgers in overtime.
On Monday, it was announced that Bezhanishvili was the Big Ten men's basketball Player of the Week and Dosunmu was the Big Ten Freshman of the Week in Illinois' sweep of the conference's weekly awards.
The sweep was the first by a pair of freshman on the same team in Big Ten men's basketball history and was the first time Illinois has ever won both awards.
Bezhanishvili averaged 25.5 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 69.0 percent from the floor in helping the Illini to a 2-0 week. He broke Illinois’ 29-year old freshman scoring record (previously held by Deon Thomas with 34 on Dec. 3, 1990) with a career-high 35 points in the Illini’s overtime victory against Rutgers.
His 35 points were the most by an Illinois player in a single game since Malcolm Hill scored 40 points on Nov. 13, 2016. He connected on 14-of-18 from the floor against the Scarlet Knights for the most made field goals in a game by an Illini player since Thomas made 16 field goals in a game in 1991. Bezhanishvili scored 29 of his 35 points in the second half and overtime. Hill was the last Illinois player to win the award, which he won on Nov. 14, 2016.
Dosunmu averaged 18.0 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in a pair of Illinois victories. He scored a game-high 24 points against Michigan State and was 8-of-14 from the floor and 4-of-8 from 3-point land. He scored 12 points with six assists, five rebounds and two steals Saturday against Rutgers. It's his first Big Ten Freshman of the Week award, and the first Illini to win since Frazier won last year on Feb. 12.